Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 21: Kuala Lumpur Day 1

Our flight for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (from here on out called KL) departed at 9:20 a.m. and 4 other people flew elsewhere at 9:15 so we shared 2 taxis to the airport. Hanoi traffic being the insane gong show that it is we had to leave at 6:30 to budget for traffic jams during the 40 minute ride. There was no major traffic so we got there in plenty of time.

My visa to Vietnam was on a loose piece of paper, which I had glued into my passport, since that's what I had to do with the Cambodia one. Turns out when you exit the country they need to keep the visa - the very same one that was glued WELL into my passport. The emigration official looked at me like a child, not knowing what to do about the conundrum so I told him "well let's rip it out then". I pried it out as best I could, shredding the visa and 2 of my passport pages in the process. Which, if I am not mistaken, is destroying federal property and considered a federal offence.

Arrest me if you will, America, I just wanted to get the hell away from places that hassle me about my visa at every single turn. At every border crossing we've made it has taken me minimum 3 times longer than everybody else to make it through. And I followed all the directions, so it's not me! I know America isn't the most popular country in the world but, c'mon people, Bush has been out of office for almost 2 years now. Give me a freaking break!

We both crashed hard on the 3 hour flight to KL, and I was pleased to sail right through customs as if I were Canadian. I can already tell: This is a place I'm going to like.

Not that I was planning on it, but I got a friendly reminder NOT to smuggle drugs into the country. Strict, much?!

Instead of springing for a taxi, the easiest but most expensive solution, we transversed the public transportation system for a fraction of the cost. We had to take a bus and 2 trains and had really bad luck with departure times. As soon as we'd get to a station the would just be pulling away so we spent an extra 40 or so minutes of travel time waiting around for the next ones. Ohh well, the whole trip from airport to hotel cost us 13.90 ringgit per person, and where we were headed it's good to have a little extra moolah in your pocket.

We got to the Mandarin Oriental - 5 star hotel - and immediately felt out of place with our backpacks and cargo shorts. This place is top of the line! Five stars, did I mention that? KL is quite cheap, which brings such a nice hotel within (the upper reaches of) our price range. It's safe to say we've never been to a nicer hotel before, and very well could be the second to last time we ever stay in a 5 star hotel (we have another one booked for Bangkok). One thing is quite clear: I look good in luxury.

Before we departed for Asia we realized that Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of daytime fasting, would be in full swing by the time we got to the very Muslim country of Malaysia. We were worried for about 2 seconds that food would be hard to come by during daytime hours, but after some quick Googling we found out that there are tons of non-Muslims, and it is a very Western country so we knew we wouldn't starve to death (since we are dangerously thin to begin with).

Street food stalls are culinary tradition here but can be a gastrointestinal nightmare for Westerners. KL has come up with the perfect solution, by moving food stalls into mall food courts so they can be more regulated and hygienic. This means good, traditional, clean (and cheap) food for us. So for dinner we headed to the mall next door to dine on a selection of street food favorites, without fear of heinous stomach viruses.

Marv ate not one, not two, but three different dinners. I only made it through 2.5. They were all quite cheap and pretty much as authentic as anything we'd get from a street bazaar. We're going to do mostly mall food court eating here, since we can get perfectly good food for a really good price.

Our hotel room is too sweet to be away from for long periods of time, so we checked in for the night after dinner. We have a birds eye view of the Petronas Towers, which were the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004. We enjoyed this view before going to sleep in our awesome bed, which I am convinced is made out of clouds.

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